The Wedding of…
Lauren Grodentzik & Kris Swiatek
Ceremony & Reception: Birchwood Manor, 973.887.1414
Gown: Martin Thornburg, at Aleana’s Bridal, Paramus, NJ
Bridesmaids: Dessy Group
Photographer: Dideo Films Photography
Florist: Aliza Dagan
Cake: Birchwood Manor
DJ: Vox Polonia
Our story began when I was a sophomore and Kris was a junior in college. Kris spotted me in a class we were both taking and he scurried on fast enough to catch the elevator with me on my way back to the dorm. We realized we were living on the same floor of the dorm and quickly became friends, attending many classes together as we had the same major. It wasn’t until my senior year when Kris came to visit me that sparks flew. Since we were used to hanging out and both wanted to pursue law, our dates consisted of going to the movies and studying for the LSAT. We believe much of our strength comes from the groundwork we laid as friends.
The proposal was perfectly planned and caught me completely by surprise. Our college has a beautiful garden we never visited while attending. On a recent trip to the campus, Kris suggested taking a stroll. He also invited our friend, Matt, to mask his intentions. Little did I know, Kris visited the garden the day before with his friends, Hiral and Ahmed, to lay out plans for the proposal. He led me through a bamboo forest to a secluded area with a cute bench. Once we reached the clearing, I saw our dog, Rollo, tied to the bench with balloons. Kris bent down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I later learned that on our way to the garden, Hiral and Ahmed had gone to our house to grab Rollo, prepare the area, and hide the engagement ring near the bench. Matt also revealed he was recording our walk covertly the whole time. We walked through the garden taking pictures and at the entrance my parents surprised me. I was overcome with emotion.
We chose Birchwood Manor for its majestic, picture-perfect outside area. We knew the visuals would be hard to beat. We were the only wedding on our wedding day, but the grounds are so large that their maximum of two wedding parties leaves more than enough room for various gorgeous backdrops. Everyone was extremely accommodating, and Farrell Holleran, our banquet manager, was fantastic. Leading up to the wedding, she was easy to work with and always quick to respond. Everybody on the Birchwood team made sure every aspect of our wedding went smoothly.
Kris is Catholic and I am Jewish, so we had an interfaith ceremony with a priest and a rabbi. We incorporated Polish, English, and Hebrew into the ceremony, and provided bilingual programs to make all our guests feel welcome. Our mothers lit a unity candle I made at home as a special, personalized moment.
We had a fantastic array of food for our cocktail hour. Every guest had ample options regardless of preferences. There were various hors d’oeuvres, an ice sculpture, a seafood display, and a carving station. My favorite was the shrimp cocktail and Kris loved the pierogies! We added some rustic touches for our reception. Our florist made beautiful centerpieces with succulents and flowers in dusty pink and grayish blue, while our sweetheart table was decorated by the bridesmaids’ gorgeous bouquets. I used my crafting skills to make signs in colors matching the flowers, framed in rose gold. I also made our “card cage,” table numbers, and Mr. & Mrs. sign, using rose gold or rose gold glitter.
Dinner at Birchwood was excellent. We had a Caesar salad as an appetizer. My mother had specific preferences and was able to have a special salad just for her. The entrées were prime rib of beef, chicken marsala, and grilled salmon. We were thrilled to combine two layers of red velvet with a layer of dulce de leche in the middle of our wedding cake, which was served with an almond tuile cup with vanilla ice cream, chocolate ganache, and a chocolate-covered strawberry. The cake was both beautiful and delicious! Our reception maintained a multicultural theme by including songs in English, Polish, and Hebrew. All our guests were up dancing and it was great to see everyone we love together.
I’d like to extend personal thanks to Birchwood’s Farrell Holleran, who was amazing at facilitating our guests, our timeline, and anything we asked for. Thank you to my bridal shop for setting me up with the perfect wedding dress. Through many alterations and much restructuring, you did an amazing job. Thank you to my florist for taking a photograph and creating an entire theme for our wedding florals. Birchwood was perfect for our wedding. We had fun, took beautiful photos, and had a perfect celebration!